As soon as I got my hands on Tribute Games’ Flinthook I was instantly transfixed into the obsessive stupor that games such as Rogue Legacy and The Binding of Isaac had me in. Falling back down the rabbit hole of ‘just one more game’ even though that more often than not I would come up empty handed in my endeavors and yet despite all of that, still satisfied with how I spent my time. Flinthook is an addictive action platformer roguelike that cements itself as one of the best roguelikes in recent times.
The premise of Flinthook is quite a simple one. As Flinthook, one of the smallest but toughest pirates around, you will be taking on the toughest pirates the galaxy has to offer. There are a number of bounties to claim across the galaxy and you will need to battle your way through a number of pirate ships to get to them. These ships act as smaller bite size missions, similar to each of the levels in the Binding of Isaac, which are made up of multiple procedurally generated rooms. Before battling it out with each of the pirate bosses you will have to complete a certain number of these pirate ships in order to gain access, although what is different about Flinthook is that you will have a choice between 3 different ships to tackle, with only the basis of what the difficulty is and what are the major aspects of the ship, everything from large platoons on board to dangerous and labyrinthine branching paths to bazaars This is a great way to give you a bit of a say in what you are going to come up against. Despite the levels being procedurally generated they all usually house, a couple of secrets, a shop to purchase health and upgrades, some obstacle rooms to tackle and some enemies to defeat.
Flinthook gives you a small handful of abilities that pair so perfectly together, a small blaster that can be upgraded with faster firing rates, longer shots, and more powerful blows. A grappling hook that you can use to attach to rings to traverse across each room, this grappling hook acts as your main means of transportation as well as giving you the ability, to zip around, break enemy shields, dodge enemy fire and pull off some pretty satisfying kills. Your character also has the ability to slow down time for a short amount of time, which allows you to phase through some walls, quickly hook onto a ring before you tumble into a pit, or fire away a precise shot as you dodge the oncoming fire. When you get into a rhythm and successfully combine all three of these abilities together to take out an entire room flawlessly it makes for some of the most satisfying gameplay I have experienced in a long while.
Despite having to restart over again every time you die, you are able to enhance your character by purchasing upgrades and allocating them to your character before starting your adventure again. There are two types of upgrades that you can purchase, permanent passive upgrades, such as enhancing your health, move set and inventory size as well as upgrades that you can swap in and out. Each of these upgrades takes up a certain number of your limited inventory slots. The better the upgrade, the more it will cost, these range from extra health, to XP boosts as well as a whole bevy of other abilities. You have to make sure that you choose what you take into battle carefully as it may be the difference between advancing further through each dungeon or dying early and winding back where you started.
To add to the already addictive gameplay there are myriad collectibles to discover throughout your galaxy exploration. Some pirate ships are home to ancient relics that you can collect or pages of lore for you to learn about the world. These collectibles don’t necessarily do much in the grand scheme of things, but it introduces another element to Flinthook and allows for the collector in you to scratch that itch.
Flinthook is a roguelike that takes inspiration from games such as Rogue Legacy and The Binding of Isaac, but in some way does gameplay a whole lot better. The simple mechanics of shooting, using your grappling hook and slowing down time makes for some fast-paced satisfying gameplay that can’t be seen in those other two games. Dancing across each level in beautiful pixel art all while bopping along to cool soundtrack is easily some of the most entertaining and addictive gameplay I have experienced in a very long time.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Flinthook developed and published by Tribute Games.
- Addictive gameplay
- Great pixel art and music
- Builds on the other greats